Mastering SaaS Go-to-Market Strategies

Give your SaaS product the best chance of success by creating a well-researched go to market plan. It’s a key part of your product development and launch. Defining your target market, and creating effective marketing, business development and sales strategies in advance of launch, is a proven tactic to put you on track for a positive outcome.

Let’s talk about the steps to create a successful go to market strategy for a SaaS business, along with the all important timelines and potential pitfalls.

What is a go-to-market strategy for SaaS?

Simply designing and developing an outstanding new product or feature isn’t enough to guarantee success for a SaaS company. You need to know how you’ll reach potential users, stand out from the competition, and maximize revenue.

A go-to-market plan outlines pilot customers and in-market customers as well as the marketing, business development, and sales strategies to be used to reach those customers. A comprehensive go-to-market strategy (or GTM strategy) focuses on two main aspects - the ‘who’ (potential customers) and the ‘how’ (sales and marketing channels).

Advantages of implementing a SaaS go-to-market strategy

A huge proportion of new products are unsuccessful, so it’s wise to reduce those chances of failure. Do your research, know your market and work out how to reach them. Following your GTM plan and strategy effectively will help you more quickly arrive at product market fit and begin to scale.

A clear roadmap for teams: work out your GTM plan with details of how you’ll raise awareness of your SaaS product. Then you can set goals and KPIs, allocate resources, and establish timelines for your team. This can keep your team aligned with a clear understanding of what’s required.

Customer understanding: gathering insights on your potential customers, their needs and pain points is a key aspect of a GTM strategy. It should inform decision-makers across product development, marketing and sales. It’s your best chance of producing something people need, want and will use.

Budget planning: a strong go-to-market strategy goes beyond the initial launch. It looks ahead to the scalability of your product, and the resources required to get there.

Enhanced customer acquisition: with this future-thinking and planning, you’ll work out the best strategy for optimal customer acquisition and the associated costs.

Accelerated market penetration: implementing your go to market strategy can get your product in front of the right people early. You’ll build interest in, knowledge of and enthusiasm for your offering before it’s even available. That means they’re more likely to adopt it early.

The types of go-to-market strategy

For SaaS companies, there are three strategies to choose from. How do you know which approach is best? It comes down to your specific product and the target market. The three strategies are:

  • Product-led
  • Sales-led
  • Hybrid

Product-led growth: everything centers around your product and the value it brings. It’s the main focus for marketing efforts, sales team conversations and communications. Consequently, educating people on the product’s valuable features and benefits will be the driving force behind customer acquisition and retention.

This is often a B2C growth strategy. Users are encouraged to try the product to discover its benefits. That could be through a free trial, sign-up opportunities and rewards like customer discounts. Price incentives play a key part.

Sales-led growth: your sales reps and marketing team take center stage here. It involves a longer sales cycle than a product-led strategy with sales reps needing to guide leads through the product features. This strategy needs compelling marketing campaigns to attract leads and an effective sales team that can convert those leads into customers.

This works best for B2B SaaS companies. Sales teams will reach out to leads and businesses that meet their ideal customer profile to showcase the product and explain how its features benefit the company. Marketing teams may offer product demos as a lead generation tactic.

Hybrid growth: combine the best bits of product-led and sales-led growth strategies. You may use product-led tactics to raise awareness, but then use sales teams for lead conversion.

Building a successful go-to-market strategy for a B2B SaaS business

There are eight important steps to include in a successful SaaS business go-to-market strategy.

Target audience definition

It’s vital to know who you’re building a product for. Develop an ideal customer profile or buyer persona and really understand who that customer is and what they need. Are you targeting an entirely new market or one in which you already operate?

Build your marketing campaigns around them, and make sure you’re putting your marketing efforts in the most effective places - the places where your target audience will be.

Unique value proposition and brand message development

With that ideal customer/ buyer in mind, find out their pain points and how your product resolves them. The corresponding value propositions will define the pain point, the product value that deals with it and the message to convey that. It will identify the ways you’re differentiated from your competition too.

Pricing strategy selection

Applying the best pricing model is pivotal to your GTM strategy’s success. Again, make customer-centric decisions that are appropriate for your target market and give a competitive advantage. Many B2B SaaS companies will opt for a subscription-based pricing model, but you could apply a freemium model, tiered pricing, flat rate or pay as you go pricing.

Sales strategy determination

Your sales strategy will depend on your target market and the product you’re selling them. As outlined above, B2B SaaS companies are likely to adopt a sales-led growth strategy. Large organizations like Microsoft or Salesforce use this sales process and provide high-level guidance with new products and features.

Marketing channel selection

How will you raise awareness of your product, grab attention and drive demand? Your market research will inform these decisions, identifying which channels are most likely to reach potential customers. The distribution channel could be social media (LinkedIn for B2B generally), SEO, content marketing, advertising or other marketing channels.

Customer experience strategy and sales funnel design

Optimizing the customer experience to ensure they have a smooth journey along the sales funnel is a good way to ensure customer success. It’s an ongoing process too. It’s important to keep abreast of customer feedback and address pain points to make continual improvements to your product and promotions.

Success metrics identification

How do you know if you’re on track to success or have reached a goal? Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance. These growth metrics include the customer acquisition cost (CAC), conversion rates and customer lifetime value (LTV). It could cover website traffic, bounce rates and downloads too. Set the most appropriate KPIs for your business goals.

Customer onboarding, support and retention

It’s not all about new customers, it’s important to value and support all customers. SaaS creates recurring revenue, so getting people to use, value and renew your product is every bit as important as the initial marketing and sales process. Simplify the onboarding process to reduce churn rates as customers can struggle with product adoption. Provide adequate customer support and listen to customer feedback to encourage retention.

What’s the best timeline?

At Highland, we’ve been helping SaaS businesses to do this for over 25 years. One lesson we’ve learnt is the importance of starting your go-to-market strategy at the same time as product design and development. Don’t wait for a finished product before starting to think about it.


  • To have demand when your product launches: you never want to launch a product without a customer base. Customers don’t just show up.
  • Keep stakeholders and development teams engaged: gain momentum and generate demand to boost enthusiasm and positivity internally.
  • Some product features are for marketing and sales purposes: if you need online sign up capabilities, discount codes, free trial promotions or referral functionality, that must be developed as part of the first product phase.

Our recommended timeline

Building the product and generating demand for it must work on the same timeline for a successful launch, so start early. The biggest mistake is underestimating the amount of time and effort it takes to build demand.

1. Define v1 of your marketing strategy before, or alongside, the start of design and build. Once you’ve defined your value proposition, start executing your initial marketing plans. Find very early adopters and friendlies to start building a customer base.

2. Beta/ pilot phase - line up potential customers early and ask them to test prototypes. Take time to learn from their usage before releasing the product at scale. Ramp up marketing activity during this time. Use wait lists, VIP access, and pre-launch sign-up discounts to drive interest and collect your first customers before the product is even released.

3. Launch - the potential customers on your waitlist and those early discount adopters are the launchpad. Then, you can scale and support a growing base of users, and continue to execute sales and marketing efforts. Set your metrics and look at them regularly.

SaaS go-to-market strategy examples

Learn from existing use cases and find out the approaches taken by global businesses.

Slack: case study

AI-powered communication platform, Slack was tested early by members of its target audience to check for product-market fit, way before it launched. The company collected valuable customer feedback and product insights that informed their next steps.

By activating a word-of-mouth strategy prior to launch, they generated interest and demand for their product early. By the time Slack launched, demand was there. Through their self-service approach, 8,000 users signed up on day one. Four months on, there were 1.1 million active users.

Their product-led growth strategy has proved successful for Slack. They still have a freemium model, along with an inside sales team for enterprise customers.

Thrivent Student Resources: case study

Thrivent is a financial services firm with a traditional agent-led go to market strategy. Working with Highland, Thrivent wanted to engage a younger audience with resources and services that enable students and parents to plan and pay for college without debt. By crafting a thoughtful content marketing and social media strategy for a clear target audience—and integrating that strategy tightly with the digital platform we developed for these new customers—Thrivent was able to exceed their first year goals for new users by over 400%.

Archer Career: case study

Archer Career was a specialized career coaching company focused on 1:1 coaching with MBA students and mid-career professionals seeking prestigious jobs with top firms. Archer worked with Highland to digitize that expertise into a subscription-based digital platform that could scale their reach to thousands of users. While developing the Archer digital product, Archer was shifted its target market from individual students to the career services offices of graduate and undergraduate programs across the county. They crafted a focused go to market strategy taking sales-led approach supported by focused video and content. Archer was able to quickly gain 50 college and university customers supporting over 20,000 users and growing.

Enhance your SaaS GTM strategy with Highland Solutions

SaaS product success requires a multitude of steps and skills. An effective and well thought out go-to-market strategy is one such crucial step for a B2B SaaS business. Having a considered marketing strategy and action plan equips your teams with a roadmap to success.

For over 25 years, we’ve been helping businesses of all sizes - from startups to established organizations - to create effective go-to-market strategies and deliver successful SaaS products. If you’d like to find out more about our approach, we’d love to hear from you.

Download “The Essential Guide to Launching a Digital Product for Experts & Expert Firms”

Let's Talk
Tell us about the opportunity you're pursuing, and we'll follow up in one business day. If you prefer, you can email